Publications

Associating mobility scores with production and reproductive performance in pasture-based dairy cows

O'Connor, A.H.; Bokkers, E.A.M.; Boer, I.J.M. de; Hogeveen, H.; Sayers, R.; Byrne, N.; Ruelle, E.; Shalloo, L.

Summary

Lameness in dairy cows can have significant effects on cow welfare, farm profitability, and the environment. To determine the economic and environmental consequences of lameness, we first need to quantify its effect on performance. The objective of this study, therefore, was to determine the associations of various production and reproductive performance measurements (including milk, fat, and protein yield, somatic cell count, calving interval, cow death, or cow slaughter), and mobility scores in spring-calving, pasture-based dairy cows. We collected mobility scores (0 = good, 1 = imperfect, 2 = impaired, and 3 = severely impaired mobility), body condition scores, and production data for 11,116 cows from 68 pasture-based dairy herds. Linear mixed modeling was used to determine the associations between specific mobility scores and milk, fat and protein yield, and somatic cell count and calving interval. Binomial logistic regression was used to determine the association between mobility score and cow death, or slaughter. Significant yield losses of up to 1.4% of the average yield were associated with mobility score 2 and yield losses of up to 4.7% were associated with mobility score 3 during the early scoring period. Elevated somatic cell count was associated with all levels of suboptimal mobility during the late scoring period. Cows with a mobility score of 2 during the early scoring period were associated with longer calving interval length, whereas only cows with a mobility score of 3 during the late scoring period were associated with longer calving interval length. Cows with a mobility score ≥1 were more likely to be culled during both scoring periods. Our study, therefore, shows an association between specific mobility scores and production and reproductive performance in spring-calving, pasture-based dairy cows scored during the summer grazing period.